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Creamy Tomato Soup in a Homemade Bread Bowl!

26 Aug


I am definitely a Fall and Winter person. I love feeling all snuggly in a hoodie and throwing on lots of cozy layers. So even though it hit 95 here in Denver today, I couldn’t get my mind off of making some soup in a bread bowl! My garden has been overflowing with ripe Roma tomatoes, so a creamy tomato soup just seemed right.

For the bread bowl, I just used this recipe from my previous French Bread post, except this time around I used 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 all-purpose. Still quite nice and fluffy. I let the dough rise twice–once right after it was mixed and then after I shaped them into boules. I recommend re-shaping them once again after they have risen because they tend to widen a bit as they rise. You want all the seams in the dough to be on the bottom (kind of like when you turn the ugly side of the Christmas tree toward the wall where no one will see it).

The tomato soup is a staple for me, especially when I’m looking for something quick that I can whip together in a few minutes. For a super fast and painless meal, use canned, diced tomatoes (though, of course, the flavor isn’t the same!) I soaked about 1/2 cup of raw cashews in water for about an hour to make the cream for the soup. In a large stock pot, I sauteed some olive oil, lots of minced garlic and chopped onion for a few minutes until the onion became translucent. I added chopped, fresh roma and beefsteak tomatoes and let simmer until the flavors mix and everything starts getting soupy. This soup has to be really thick otherwise when you pour it into the bread bowl, it will immediately just soak in and everything will get mushy. No good. To thicken the soup up, I added some cashew cream that was quickly made by processing the soaked raw cashews with a bit of water until you get a thick consistency. Since I like my soups thick and creamy, I threw everything back into the blender and whirred it all up until very smooth. I may have added a bit too much cashew cream, hence the reason why my soup is more orange than red! Still very savory. Fresh basil paired well with this.

When you make this, be sure to bring your appetite! Or just make your boules smaller 🙂 Since my beloved is spending the week in Michigan, I have an abundance of food and no one to eat it. I might try freezing the leftover boule and then thawing/re-heating when I’m ready to use it as a bread bowl again. We shall see how that goes.

My Friday night was spent whipping this together, watching American Pickers and falling asleep with a book in hand. When did I get so old? My energy was completely absent today and I am blaming this on forgetting to make some coffee. Terrible how I’ve become so dependent on it and I’m only a week into Fall semester…! Tomorrow is this month’s garden work day at the community garden…got to get to sleep so I can be a weed-pulling fiend! Goodnight all! Happy weekend! 🙂

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Grilled Vegetable Salad & Fruit Smoothie

17 Aug

We have a problem. The significant other and I tend to buy way too many Groupons & Livingsocial deals…and then forget about them until right before they expire. We bought a voucher for $30 worth of organic, local vegetables delivered to our door like three months ago…and got out veggies this morning! The tub was packed full of leafy greens, potatoes, corn, broccoli, eggplant and carrots. Now to find a way to use all this!

Lunch was easy to throw together. I salted and let eggplants slices sweat for about 30 minutes. I sliced some zucchini squash and heirloom beefsteak tomatoes and let those marinate in garlic powder, salt+pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil while the eggplant was sweating. The grill was then fired up and everything thrown on for about 10 minutes. Grilled Vegetable Salad!  The great thing about marinating vegetables is that the leftover marinade doesn’t go to waste, unlike when you marinate meat stuffs. Leftover marinade = lazy man’s salad dressing. The salad was gorgeous and bright BUT unfortunately, the eggplant was SO BITTER! Such a bummer. I know salting/sweating helps with the bitterness, but wow, it was pretty much inedible. It made my mouth hurt so much! Oh well! I devoured the rest of the salad and ended up pitching the eggplant. Not sure what went wrong, maybe just a bad aubergine?

I also made a fruit smoothie to add a bit of sweetness + daily serving of fruits to the meal. LOVE smoothies, especially on hot summer days! We try to buy and use fresh fruit as much as possible, but sometimes it’s too expensive or not available! When fruit is on sale, we buy a lot of it and freeze it. Perfect for smoothie making because you don’t need to add any ice. This smoothie consisted of: pineapple slices, strawberries (with the greens still on top), blueberries, and orange juice. Simple, but so sweet and refreshing!

 

Super excited to be seeing one of my all-time favorite bands, Incubus, at Red Rocks Amphitheatre tonight! Just hoping the thunderstorms roll right on past us 🙂 Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Quick, Easy Zucchini, Spinach & Tomato Pasta

16 Aug

I was in no mood for a laborious, time-consuming dinner tonight. I found the solution sitting on my kitchen counter. I’ve been making an effort to buy much of the produce we love locally. There’s a small farm stand across the street from the library that I frequent and they have amazing heirloom beefsteak tomatoes. We also go to the farmer’s market at City Park on Sundays ($.25 jalapenos? awesome.), where we also get to pick up our share of the ELA Family Farms fruit CSA that we are a part of. ELA Family Farms is located in Hotchkiss, CO (about 240 miles away from Denver) and grow a variety of organic fruits and vegetables. We picked up our first share this past Sunday consisting of a bag of heirloom tomatoes, a bag of peaches and applesauce made from their own apples! As the season progresses, we will be expecting different varieties of tomatoes, peaches, plums, pears, apples and CIDER! For the entire month of October, we will receive a half gallon of cider every week. I love fall and cider and pumpkins and apples and orchards! If there’s one thing I miss about Michigan, it’s the sunny, brisk Fall days spent apple picking and devouring freshly made donuts at a cider mill.

With little inspiration or motivation toward making a grand meal tonight, I whipped up an easy, flavorful vegetable pasta dish that took about 20 minutes. The dry sherry used really helped bring the dish together and mellow the balsamic vinegar. This can be thrown together using pretty much any vegetables you have on hand, though I highly recommend some fresh, juicy beefsteak tomatoes as the main ingredient.

Quick, Easy Zucchini, Spinach & Tomato Pasta

  • 3 Fresh beefsteak tomatoes (also threw in a couple of romas we had on hand)
  • Half a zucchini squash, sliced and then cut in half
  • Fresh baby spinach leaves
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • About 1/4 cup of dry sherry
  • a few splashes of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 servings of whole wheat pasta

pretty pyrex 🙂

Boil water! Cook pasta! Meanwhile…in a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and minced garlic (since I didn’t have any on hand, I just threw in some garlic powder later on). Wilt the spinach leaves by covering the pan for a few minutes. Add zucchini and beefsteak tomatoes, stir and let simmer for 5 minutes. Add spices to taste (basil would be a great addition). Add sherry and balsamic vinegar and simmer for about 5 more minutes until the sherry flavor has mellowed a bit. Taste and make sure it is savory and everything you hoped and dreamed for. Throw on top of the cooked pasta and, if you have any, garnish with fresh basil leaves.

 

I was super excited to see the tea towels I ordered from Etsy seller Zen Threads waiting for me in the mail today. I love functional, vintage-looking tea towels and these are super high quality. Look out for them in upcoming food pictures 🙂

I’m loving these cool summer nights…Autumn is in the air! My favorite season. Can’t wait for the Aspens to start changing colors because you know what that means…WINTER IS COMING! I’m already itching to slap my skis on and tear down the mountains. But it’s still August. And it’s still in the 90s during the day. Reality check.

Garden Updates

7 Aug


The community garden we are a part of (located conveniently at the library I work at) has helped us learn the ins and outs of gardening by means of trial and error (and the occasional words of wisdom from the more experienced crowd). So far, we’ve had quite a few very sweet little strawberries to munch on over the summer, but they’ve all been taken over by the sprawling pumpkin vines that are acting like they own the place and make themselves comfortable wherever. The snow peas died off awhile ago, a result of a week of massive thunderstorms and flooding. I could have sworn I had planted heirloom tomato seeds, but the tomatoes that are growing look like romas! No complaints here, just a bit bizarre. Can’t wait to have fresh tomatoes to make salsa & sauces! The little jalapenos that are popping up will pair nicely with those tomatoes. I’m a bit scared of the habaneros, so those will be going to my sister! The bell peppers are so cute and doll-sized at the moment. I just hope that critters stay away! It’s funny how animals know exactly when things are ripe and at their best and chomp on them.

After watering the garden this morning, I was greeted with the wonderful smell of banana-walnut waffles! Yum. They tasted just like fresh banana bread, but in waffle form. Dense, but lovely! While taking pictures of the waffle-goodness, someone wanted to take a bite…Izze really likes banana peels, so no wonder she wanted to sniff these waffles! The original recipe for these came from the glorious Veganomicon. Truly a grand resource for all things vegan!

Now, to continue my lazy Sunday by reading the rest of the Julia Child biography, planning some recipes and finishing up that bottle of Pinot Noir…